Billions of dollars could be saved if legislation is introduced to make generic medicines available in Saudi Arabia, an insurer has said.
A report released by Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance estimates that spending on medication across the Kingdom could fall by 35%-40%, amounting to SR10bn ($2.66bn).
A white paper produced for the insurer is thought to be the first of its kind to explore generic medicine legislations in the Kingdom. Dr Ayman Al-Sulaimani, Medical Director at Bupa Arabia, said that while there is an existing policy in favour of generic medicine in Saudi Arabia, it lacks “enforcement due to the non-availability of generic medicine at the desired level of quality and price”.
Dr Al-Sulaimani said: “Today, only 30% of pharmaceuticals are manufactured locally. “Introducing a generic medicine framework [legislation] can boost local manufacturing of drugs, which not only provides employment opportunities for Saudis but also reduces the medication cost burden in the country.”
According to Bupa Arabia’s report, Saudi Arabia is the largest spender on healthcare across the Middle East, with over $37bn (SR139bn) spent on private and semi-government sectors, the Ministry of Health and out-of-pocket expenditures.